Phillies' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 18, 2012

Phillies' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 18, 2012

Phillies' Path to the Postseason: Sept. 18, 2012
NEW YORK -- The Phillies are giving themselves a chance, no matter how slight it is.

After losing three of four this weekend in Houston to leave themselves almost no margin for error, the Phillies beat the New York Mets on Monday night at Citi Field, 3-1. The Phillies are 3 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot with 14 games to play. They are four back in the loss column, which means they need to win almost every game the rest of the way and pray for the Cardinals to hit the skids.

Oh, and they also need the Dodgers, Pirates and Brewers to start losing, too.

Tuesday's key games to watch (all times ET)

Dodgers (Harang, 9-9) at Nationals (Zimmermann, 10-8), 7:05 p.m. Preview >

Brewers (Gallardo, 15-8) at Pirates (Burnett, 15-7), 7:05 p.m. Preview >

Braves (Maholm, 12-10) at Marlins (Eovaldi, 4-12), 7:10 p.m. Preview >

Phillies (Cloyd, 1-1) at Mets (Harvey, 3-5), 7:10 p.m. Preview >

Reds (Bailey, 11-9) at Cubs (Germano, 2-7), 8:05 p.m. Preview >

Astros (Abad, 0-4) at Cardinals (Lohse, 14-3), 8:15 p.m. Preview >

Padres (Stults, 6-2) at D-backs (Kennedy, 13-11), 9:40 p.m. Preview >

Rockies (Francis, 5-5) at Giants (Lincecum, 9-14), 10:15 p.m. Preview >

If the postseason started today ...

This is how the teams would match up: Postseason Bracket »

Postseason 101

Magic numbers
To calculate a team's magic number, take the number of games it has remaining and add one. Then subtract the difference in the number of losses between that team and its closest pursuer.

Tiebreaker scenarios
A tiebreaker game will be played to determine a division winner, even if the tied clubs are assured of participating in the postseason. If a division championship tiebreaker is necessary, the head-to-head record between the clubs will determine home-field advantage. If the head-to-head record is tied, then the division record will be the next tiebreaker.

If two clubs are tied for the two Wild Card berths, home-field advantage will be determined by the head-to-head record between the clubs. If the head-to-head record is tied, then the division record will be the next tiebreaker.

Tiebreaker rules »

2012 postseason schedule
Wild Card playoff games: Oct. 5
Division Series: Oct. 6-12
AL Championship Series: Oct. 13-21
NL Championship Series: Oct. 14-22
World Series: Oct. 24-Nov. 1

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.